We moved into a beautiful, ridiculously spacious bungalow in a Chicago south side community in 2010. But the journey to a debt free home started much earlier.
When I tell the story, I get mixed reactions. Some people believe, some don’t. Some people want a formulaic, step by step playbook on how they can also get a home with no mortgage and no debt. I can’t point people to a book or a government program. I can only do so much as navigate them to this original iva site in case they’re debt-ridden. Honestly, our breakthrough came through prayer and reading about money principles in the Bible. The process started with changing our thoughts about money and debt and ended with us receiving a home without a note.
Instead of a step by step, detailed account of everything that happened for us to get the house (because everyone’s journey will be different), I’d like to outline the changes that occurred in our thought process to bring us to this wonderful place.
Before we did anything, we came to a common ground in what we believed about money. This was crucial. Since my husband and I are Christians, we both agreed that we would use the Bible and the money principles contained there to guide our financial decisions. This means that whatever the Bible said about business partnership, debt, co-signing for debt, relatives and money, labor and fair wages, charitable giving and even capital gains would be the basis of our financial decision making.
We changed our thinking about money in so many ways and did the following:
1) We realized that we weren’t entitled to anything- One of the reasons for our financial strain was that there was somewhat a sense of entitlement when it came to spending money. We felt we deserved a nice meal out, a luxury car or designer clothes. Just because we were nice people, didn’t entitle us to these things. Nice things are for people who have their finances in order. For a long time, that wasn’t us. Ouch.
2) Took a few steps back to go many steps forward- At one point in our marriage, we were literally on the verge of financially bleeding out. I got an office space for a business that I really could have run from home (along with the related credit card debt), high rent in a swanky suburb and a nice new shiny car note on a Lexus SUV. Since we had recently begun using the Bible as our new life manual, it was time to make a tough decision- close up shop and go home to mama. It was hard to humble ourselves and step backwards in life to live with relatives. I am so glad we did it.
3) Had a plan for freed up money- While we were schmoozing off mom, we actually made a plan for the money that was released from our home and the office space lease. We decided to make a concerted, deliberate effort to pay off debt completely and quickly. We knew that having debt would impair our ability to save, invest and build wealth. For this reason, we decided not take for granted our special “no rent” situation and tackle our consumer debt head on.
4) Resolutely decided against debt for a home- I had a lot of time to listen to Dave Ramsey so I knew one of his favorite mantras was “I don’t borrow money for anything.” Those words, coupled with a verse in Romans 8:13 that admonished us to owe no one anything, continually echoed in my mind. I thought, if Dave could get through business and life without debt, so could we. So why not at least try. That’s exactly what we did.
After about a year and a half of diligently paying down debt and saving leftover money, it happened. We received a phone call and it was with the great news that a house was available to us with no debt! The year before, we were at a crossroads: tired of doing our part, but being so far away from the prospect of home ownership. We almost went back on our debt free resolution and started the mortgage pre-approval process! We were weary and wanted to make our home happen quicker than we thought it would take. Thankfully, our thoughts were invaded with the nagging feeling that this wasn’t the right way for us. In the middle of that process, my husband and I recommitted to our debt free plan and bailed out of the loan application process. Thank, God! If we had gone forward, we would not be in a position receive our debt free home.
There’s no magic, no miracles here. I don’t have a program to sell you or a pill you can take to get your own debt free home. Plainly put: this was a process of changing our minds and eventually behavior due to believing in the possibility of a debt free home.
Could you ever believe that you could get a home with no mortgage? Why or why not?